Explore the unspoilt hills of southern Normandy and of the former province of Maine just to the south.
Of the rivers here, the Varenne sometimes runs calmly, sometimes rapidly, while the Cance often rushes down like a waterfall. Hiding in the deeper waters rare iconic species hide out, like the white-clawed crayfish or the freshwater pearl mussel.
Whether by bike, on foot, on a horse or in a carriage, explore the magnificent forests of Les Andaines, Ecouves, Perseigne and Sillé and discover the hedgerows and fields where the little owl nests. If you’re go along quietly, you may be able to spot a deer, a roedeer or a wildboar, listen to a black woodpecker or watch the acrobatic flight of the hen-harrier.
The Normandie-Maine Regional Natural Park was significant in the histories of William the Conqueror and his fourth son, Henri Beauclerc, who became King Henry I of England on William Rufus’s mysterious death in 1100. Major feudal rivalries between the lords of the provinces of Normandy and Maine meant that many castles were built to guard the frontiers. At Domfront, one great town at which to stop along La Vélo Francette, among other places on the route, you can admire fortifications which continue to defy time.